CAN YOU HEAR THEM NOW?…. They’re unlikely to get the kind of attention Tea Party events generate, but there will be quite a few folks turning out today for nationwide events on immigration policy.

Immigrant rights activists planning dozens of Saturday marches nationwide hope Arizona’s controversial immigration law spurs tens of thousands to protest and adds urgency to pleas for federal immigration reform.

Activists believe opposition to the law — which requires authorities to question people about immigration status if there is reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally — could be the catalyst to draw crowds similar to those four years ago.

Attendance at May 1 events have varied in recent years, but it was just a few years ago when hundreds of thousands of people participated in enormous events demanding change to the immigration status quo. Whether today’s events generate those kinds of crowds remains to be seen.

But I’ll be curious about Fox News’ coverage, in particular. Last year, the Republican network felt it necessary to not only promote Tea Party gatherings relentlessly for weeks, but also offered live coverage of the events. When asked for an explanation, Fox News said it was just reporting the news — if others held well-attended national events, the network would cover them, too.

Anyone want to lay odds on whether we’ll see comparable coverage of today’s protests?

Regardless, the immigration events today have the potential to shape policymakers’ attitudes. There’s still a discussion underway in D.C., for example, about which issues should be tackled before the end of the year (and before Republicans make gains in the midterms, making the law-making process all but impossible in 2011). Earlier this week, it appeared a climate/energy bill was likely to be considered after Wall Street reform, but the status of the debate is unclear, in part because of Lindsey Graham, and in part because of the oil disaster in the Gulf, which necessarily affects policymakers’ attitudes on energy policy.

Massive events today, coupled with Arizona’s recent efforts, may very well help push immigration reform onto the front burner.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.